México City is the most important
economic, industrial, and cultural center in the
country, located in the Valley of México at an
altitude of 2,240 meters or 7,349 ft. Greater México
City has a population exceeding 20 million people,
being the most populated metropolitan area in the
western hemisphere and the second largest in the
Cuicuilco may be one of the oldest
cities settled in the area, located at the southern
shore of the original Lake Texcoco, it was inhabited
around 1700 BC and by 300 BC this area contained one
of the biggest cities in the Valley of México.
The current México City was built as
Tenochtitlán by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of
Lake Texcoco. After landing in Veracruz, Hernán Cortés
first saw it on November 8, 1519, upon viewing
Tenochtitlán for the first time, Cortés and his men
were stunned by its beauty and size. At the end,
Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec Emperor, had to surrender
in August of 1521.
The Historic Centre has been
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Famous
landmarks include hundreds of buildings, palaces,
convents and churches built between the 1500s to the
1700s when it was one of the most important cities
during the Spanish Empire.
|The city grew from
the island expanding beyond the original shoreline
through a draining process that continued from the
1500s to the 1800s until the lake mostly
disappeared. The majority of the Spanish noble
families proved their worth by making fortunes
outside of the city, then spending the revenues in
the capital, building churches, supporting
charities and building extravagant palatial homes,
many of which can still be seen, leading to México
City’s nickname of “The City of Palaces”.
The Zócalo, main square, includes
time clashing Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and
the National Palace within a few steps of the ancient
Aztec ruins Templo Mayor. The nearby Fine Arts Palace
is a stunning white marble theatre/museum whose weight
is such that it has gradually been sinking into the
soft lake bed below.
After the Mexican Revolution,
the avant-garde artistic muralist movement lead by
José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego
Rivera displayed its art in numerous buildings in the
México City’s golden Angel of
Independence, is found on the wide and elegant avenue
Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the
Emperor Maximilian after the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
This avenue was designed in the XIX century to connect
the National Palace (seat of government) with the
Castle of Chapultepec (imperial residence), which is
placed on top of the wooded hill that the Aztecs made
home in the 1200s before founding Tenochtitlán.
The nearby, Polanco is a tree-lined
neighborhood with upscale restaurants, boutiques,
hotels and art galleries. Condesa, with a more laid
back character, is notable for its sidewalk
restaurants, bars, cafés and art scene.
The Popocatépetl is an active
volcano at 5,426 m (17,802 ft) linked to the
Iztaccíhuatl volcano by a high saddle known as
Paso de Cortés, the latter has four peaks with its
highest at 5,230 m (17,159 ft). Iztaccíhuatl peaks
are seen as depicting the head, chest, knees and
feet of a sleeping female figure. Both formations
contain permanent snow and glaciers and are only
70 km (44 mi) to the southeast of Mexico City,
whence it can be seen regularly. Also the
residents of Puebla, 40 km (25 mi) east of the
volcanoes, enjoy the views of the snowy and
glacier-clad mountain range.
San Ángel started with a Carmelite
Convent during the 1500s and grew with many fine
country estates which spilled into the adjacent towns
of Tizapán and Chimalistac. Not far, Hernán Cortés
made his residence in Coyoacán, a town that features
large and beautiful Spanish colonial homes, an area
that centuries later became home to Frida Kahlo, Diego
Rivera and Leon Trotsky.
Coyoacán is now lined with
bookstores, cafés and clubs with a lively bohemian and
artistic culture. The Pedregal lava fields were formed
by the eruption of the Xitle volcano around 5000 BC,
nearby Cuicuilco, was inhabited around 1700 BC and by
300 BC reached its climax.
The oldest university in the
Americas established in México City’s Historical
Center in the early 1500s, is now the largest
university in the continent under the name of National
Autonomous University of México (UNAM), relocated in
the 1950s in an area known as Ciudad Universitaria and
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a
distinction also given to the nearby "Aztec floating
gardens" of Xochimilco.
La Villa is the site of the famous
apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, according to
the tradition, the image appeared miraculously on the
front of a simple peasant cloak, Saint Juan Diego on
the hill of Tepeyac near México City between December
9 and December 12, 1531.
The Virgin has been given the title:
"Patroness of the Americas" and the Basilica of Our
Lady of Guadalupe is the second most visited Catholic
shrine in the world.
Tlatelolco was founded in 1337 which
is where the Plaza de las Tres Culturas is located.
The Plaza contains the ancient site surrounded by the
Templo de Santiago from the 1600s and the 20th century
office complexes of the Mexican Foreign Ministry.
Teotihuacán is an enormous
archaeological site located approximately 40
kilometers or 25 miles northeast of México City, which
covers a total surface area of 83 km², designated as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most
visited archaeological sites in México. It contains
some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the
Pre-Columbian Americas, along with large residential
complexes and colorful well-preserved murals.
The name was given by the Náhuatl-speaking
Aztec, centuries after the fall of the city, meaning
'birthplace of the gods' reflecting creation
mythology. It had its apogee in the first half of the
1st millennium CE, becoming the largest city in the
Pre-Columbian Americas, when it may have had more than
100,000 inhabitants placing it amongst the largest
cities of the world in this period. Teotihuacán
influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented
becoming a multiethnic state.
Las Lomas and Bosques are high-end
neighborhoods with mansions within thick and dense
forests on steep hillsides and valleys, while Santa Fe
is a display of modern Mexican architecture and a main
According to a recent study, Greater
México City is the eighth-richest urban agglomeration
in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New
York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and
Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America.
The Museo Nacional de Antropología
(National Museum of Anthropology) contains significant
archaeological and anthropological artifacts from the
pre-Columbian heritage of Mexico. It has an impressive
architecture with exhibition halls surrounding a patio
with a huge pond and a vast square concrete umbrella
supported by a single slender pillar around which
splashes an artificial cascade.
The Museo Nacional de Antropología
has 23 rooms for exhibits and covers an area of
approximately 8 hectares or 20 acres which is ringed
by gardens some with outdoor exhibits.
The museum has a number of
significant exhibits, such as the Aztec Stone of the
Sun, giant stone heads of the Olmec civilization,
several treasures from the Maya civilization, a model
of the former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, which is now
occupied by the modern-day Mexico Cit, as well as
ethnological displays of rural Mexican life. Nearby,
the National Museum of History which is located in the
Chapultepec Castle focuses on the Viceroyalty of New
Spain and its progress towards modern Mexico, up to
the 20th Century.
Mexico City has around 160 museums,
over 100 art galleries and some 30 concert halls, all
of which maintain a constant cultural activity during
the year. It has one of the highest numbers of
theatres in the world along with New York and London,
and is the city with the most number of museums in the